I was laying on my bed when she stormed into our room. The door slammed shut. The door frame trembled. I was reading Jane Eyre. Regina’s small shadow fell over me like an ominous cloud.
I went on reading. Jane Eyre was an interesting character; quiet, subdued, almost a complete walkover if not for a spine-like determination to stick to her principles. I turned the page. In the room’s stillness, the page sounded like the white-crested waves crashing in on themselves. Jane was leaving Thornfield Hall after discovering Mr Rochester’s second marriage. This was a scene taut with emotion and I settled further back into the plush duvet to enjoy it better.
Regina raised her foot and brought it down crashing ono the wooden floor. The sound brought me back temporarily to the real world. I glanced lazily up over the page’s edge and met Regina’s slitted eyes. I looked back down at the page.
“I’m tired of you acting like this!”
Her voice exploded out of her tiny frame like a glass shattering in one motion on the ground. The room darkened and the dancing fairies in the pictures on the wall hid their faces behind their hands. Without even bothering to look up, I replied cooly that her sentiments matched mine perfectly.
Regina was two years, seven months and three days older than me. Older in calendar years yes, but not in grey matter. There were many times where I blushed for my sister’s emotional explosions. Emotional explosions: that is the only way to describe the way she would suddenly pounce on me and unleash a deluge of emotions.
Usually, we got on well with one another. She had her room and I had mine. We lived like cordial neighbours inhabiting rooms on the same block of flats. Sometimes we were best chums, sometimes we were not. But this summer was different. Not only was it the hottest summer ever recorded but we were sharing a room. We were sharing a room because Nana was staying in mine for the summer holidays. It started off okay. First, there was the close chumminess, the watching of movies together on one bed, the sisterly comrade in keeping the room tidy; our sisterly bond had never been so strong. But Regina had broken it with her constant nagging about my stuff. The room was a big one, with one large window that looked out onto our backyard. More than enough space for two teenage girls. And to be fair I did keep my mess ( as Regina called it) on my side of the room. But Regina just went on nagging and nagging. “ Pick up this. Do this. Ewww!! Your dirty socks!”
I stared at the page, but I was not seeing the words. My fingers gripped the book until my nails were white and pale. My breath came in thick-like snorts. I looked over the edge of my page again. This time I met Regina’s slitted eyes with my own slitted eyes and a glare to match.
“Did you hear what I said?” she hissed.
Her eyes were blazing and on each of her cheeks, a red spot was blossoming. I put Jane Eyre down and without getting up I looked at her; the knowing, superior look. And then the war began in earnest.
“When I tell you stuff you never listen!” She was emotional.
“Well, you repeat it so often, it gets a bit old.” I was calm.
“When I want to talk about stuff, you just sit there like a-like a stupid brick!” Name-calling - yes, she was pretty mad.
“No,” I said deliberately, “I just prefer to deal with un-hysterical people,”
I laid the emphasis on “un-hysterical people” and looked at her sardonically. The ‘personal jabs’ part of the war had begun.
“I’m not hysterical!!” she screeched, “You’re lazy and- and- stupid!”
Her fists were clenched. Her eyes glistened. I lay on the bed, irritated, pricked maybe, but calm and in control. I stared past her.
“Stupid girl yourself,” I thought, “You’re proving my point.”
“We need to talk about this!” She thundered again and stamped her foot.
It was a hard stamp and even my bed vibrated. I sat up, “If you haven’t noticed, we are talking. And for the record, I don’t see why its any of your business.”
I laid back down and stared at the ceiling with my arms crossed. Defiant to the last. She stamped again. If we have been the physically violent type then by this time we’d have been rolling across the wooden floor. But we were mature teenagers and I preferred to keep it that way.
“Do you remember Mom’s birthday last year?”
Didn’t I remember! We had gotten my mom some pretty coloured glassware as a gift. I had been commissioned to wrap them. I worked on the floor of my room, making them look pretty. I was just finishing up when Dad called me to help him with something out in the garden. I pulled on my boots, covered the things on the floor with a thick blanket and ran out to help. Hours later, I ran back into my room, crashing and smashing everything through the blanket. Regina was furious. She wouldn’t stop ticking me off. “I told you never ever to leave things on the floor! Why can’t you just be neat and methodical!”
If I hadn’t been stirred before, I was now. It was just so, so nasty of her to bring that up now. It had been an accident! Besides I hadn’t even wanted to get Mom the glassware in the first place.
I jumped up and roared, “Will you just stop nagging about the room?!”
“That’s my point; you never told me that you didn’t want to get the glassware!!” she yelled.
I stood there trembling. In the quickly darkening room, only the red spots on her cheeks were visible.
“What did you say?” we both yelled each other.
“What do you think I’m talking about?” Regina shot at me.
“The room. What are you talking about?”
“Your ability not to listen or communicate properly.”
We both stood still. The heated tension and anger a mere throbbing far, far away. We’d both been arguing about different things! Different things! My mouth pulled up on one side. This was actually funny.
I laughed. The sun peaked out from behind a cloud and the fairies on the walls came out from behind their hands and smiled. Regina looked at me, a cloud descending over her face.
“This just proves my point,” she said through clenched teeth, “You never listen to me!”
The door banged shut. I was left alone in our room again. She was so dramatic, I thought. It was funny! Why couldn’t she see that? I flopped back onto my bed, picked up Jane Eyre and wondered for the umpteenth time why my sister couldn’t have been more like me.